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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Nahash

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("serpent".)

1. King of Ammon. Offered the citizens of Jabesh Gilead a covenant only on condition they should thrust out their right eyes, as a reproach upon all Israel (1 Samuel 11). Saul, enraged at this cruel demand, summoned all Israel, slew, and dispersed the Ammonite host. Among the causes which led Israel to desire a king had been the terror of Nahash's approach (1 Samuel 12:12). So successful had he been in his marauding campaigns that he self confidently thought it impossible any Israelite army could rescue Jabesh Gilead; so he gave them the seven days' respite they craved, the result of which was their deliverance, and his defeat by Saul. If he perished, then the Nahash who befriended David was his son. That father and son bore the same name makes it, likely that Nahash was a common title of the kings of Ammon, the serpent being the emblem of wisdom, the Egyptian Kneph also being the eternal Spirit represented as a serpent. Jewish tradition makes the service to David consist in Nahash having protected David's brother, when he escaped from the massacre perpetrated by the treacherous king of Moab on David's family, who had been entrusted to him (1 Samuel 22:3-4).

Nahash the younger would naturally help David in his wanderings from the face of Saul, their common foe. Hence at Nahash's death David sent a message of condolence to his son. (See HANUN.) The insult by that young king brought on him a terrible retribution (2 Samuel 10). Yet we read Nahash's son Shobi (2 Samuel 17:27-29) was one of the three trans-jordanic chieftains who rendered munificent hospitality to David in his hour of need, at Mahanaim, near Jabesh Gilead, when fleeing from Absalom. No forger would have introduced an incident so seemingly improbable at first sight. Reflection suggests the solution. The old kindness between Nahash and David, and the consciousness that Hanun his brother's insolence had caused the war which ended so disastrously for Ammon, doubtless led Shobi gladly to embrace the opportunity of showing practical sympathy toward David in his time of distress.

2. Father of the sisters Abigail and Zeruiah, whose mother on Nahash's death married Jesse, to whom she bore David (2 Samuel 17:25). 1 Chronicles 2:16 accordingly names Abigail and Zeruiah as "David's sisters," but not as Jesse's daughters. Nahash is made by Stanley the king of Ammon, which is not impossible, considering Jesse's descent from Ruth a Moabitess, and also David's connection with Nahash of Ammon; but is improbable, since if the Nahash father of Abigail were the king of Ammon it would have been stated. Jewish tradition makes Nahash that same as Jesse. But if so, how is it that only in 2 Samuel 17:25 "Nahash" stands for Jesse, whereas in all other places "Jesse" is named as David's father.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Nahash'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fbd/n/nahash.html. 1949.

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